New Hampshire received a small piece of good news this week - our unemployment rate fell to 6.4% (from 6.7% in April and 7% in March). That's the right direction, but we still have a long way to go.
Over the last twenty-five years, I've spent my life working to help people here in New Hampshire on issues that make a difference for all of us - from making it easier for families to save for college to fighting the rising cost of health care. Today, the most important way we can help people all across our state is by focusing on creating jobs. Over the past six months in my campaign for Congress, I have traveled to every corner of our district to sit down with workers and business leaders to talk with them about how the government can help them create new jobs.
In my race for Congress, I'm going to make jobs my #1 priority. Can you join me? Click here to support these ideas on jobs and spread the word about this campaign.
I toured the community college in Berlin and the paper mill in Gorham; a high-tech startup center in Lebanon and an advanced manufacturing firm that employs 85 people in a world-class facility off a bumpy back road in North Sutton. I sat down with leaders from some of our state's biggest employers in Nashua and community bankers in Concord. I talked with workers and managers, entrepreneurs and union members, and I heard how they have struggled with cutbacks and layoffs - but also how every single one of them is driven to make it through this recession and to make our way back to new growth and new jobs again.
Here is what I've heard:
First, the bad news - there is no silver bullet. No one policy, no one regulation or deregulation, not even the biggest stimulus nor the deepest tax cut will end this recession on its own. But the good news is that we have all the elements we need to get our economy back on track right here in New Hampshire: a business climate full of promising small businesses & startups; plentiful natural resources like wood, wind, and educational institutions that produce bright engineers; and a well-trained labor force ready for hard work.
Here are three ways we can harness those ingredients and turn them into job growth:
- Small Businesses & Startup Support - New Hampshire small businesses employ more than half of all workers here, but they saw a 39% drop in small business lending last year, from $128 million to less than $80 million. We have some great community banks in New Hampshire, and we need to strengthen them by diverting money away from the Wall Street bailouts and using it instead to bolster small business lending. We also need to eliminate capital gains taxes on small business investment, give tax credits for new plants and equipment, and explore new ways to promote investment in the startups that create new jobs.
- Clean Energy Technologies - These are not "the jobs of tomorrow." These are the jobs of today. Thousands of NH workers go to work every day harvesting timber in our North Country, developing better solar panels in Merrimack, and creating new wood pellet supply systems in Peterborough and Goffstown. Startups are cracking the code of super low-energy computing in Hanover, low-energy lighting in Nashua, and efficient energy storage in Lebanon. We have a well-educated workforce and we already attract great engineering and advanced manufacturing companies. New Hampshire must lead this emerging sector, not follow.
- Public Investment in Roads, Weatherization, and Universal Access to Broadband - It is a missed opportunity to let tens of thousands of New Hampshire workers sit idle while economic development projects hold so much promise but remain undone. Every building that isn't weatherized costs us wasted heating and cooling costs. Every home and business that is forced to rely on dial-up internet simply can't compete in today's economy. These are projects that can't be outsourced to China, and they should employ well-trained, well-paid New Hampshire workers. A good place to start is by pressuring the U.S. Senate to pass the "Creating American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act" which has already passed the U.S. House.
But to do that all , we need to make sure the jobs we are creating are here at home (not overseas); that we fix Wall Street and enforce real accountability; and that we get back on the path towards balanced budgets so our recovery is truly sustainable:
- Keeping Jobs Here in the U.S. - A new study this spring confirmed that "New Hampshire has lost a higher percentage of jobs to China in the last decade than any other state in the country - especially in the high-tech industry." That cannot continue. We must end tax breaks for companies that move jobs overseas and instead provide tax credits for companies to create jobs right here in New Hampshire.
- Fairness & Wall Street Reform - We can't build a recovery on a broken foundation. Our economy will never truly recover until the underlying problems that led to the crash of 2008 are fixed. To nurture a stable and fair investment climate, never again can we let financial institutions become so large and so risky at the same time that they threaten our economy as a whole. The big banks must pay back the full costs of the bailouts and we need strict enforcement of new consumer protections going forward.
- Fiscal Responsibility - I am a frugal Yankee and I will not stand by while our country borrows against my two sons' future. While some targeted spending and job-creation tax cuts like I mentioned above will cost federal dollars, we must also strengthen the Pay As You Go rules that helped us reach balanced budgets in the late 90s. Every new investment must come with an offset, and we need to end the broken earmark system for good. Bringing our troops home from Iraq and refusing to get pulled deeper into Afghanistan will save hundreds of billions of dollars, and rolling back the most expensive, least-equitable parts of George W. Bush's broken economic policies will put us on a stronger footing after years of reckless spending.
I've spent my life working to bring our state's nonprofit, business and community leaders together to improve the lives of New Hampshire families. That's what it will take to grow jobs again: working together. Politicians alone don't have all the answers, but neither to business executives, workers, or nonprofit and community leaders. None of us do.
Together, we can get the job done. We have all the ingredients right here in New Hampshire that we need to spur job growth again: entrepreneurial spirit, hard workers, values like fairness and frugality, and plentiful natural resources. It is time for national policies that support our strengths and reflect our values - that is how we will grow jobs again.
If you agree, join me and help spread the word.
Ann McLane Kuster is a Democratic candidate for Congress in NH-02 - visit the Kuster for Congress website to learn more.